Prime Minister Copy and Paste.
New Zealand's leader shows he can do more than cut.
Christopher Luxon moved quietly through the morning darkness to the lectern. Many people were waiting, but it was surprisingly quiet.
He placed his speech in front of him, loaded the first line into his brain, and then looked up at the crowd and delivered his opening.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
He paused for effect.
Christopher was quite pleased with the opening. Some of the language was a bit old fashioned, but perhaps it was appropriate given the formality of the occasion. He certainly wanted people to think he was taking it all seriously.
How many is a score? He wondered. He tried to do the maths backwards to get to 1840 from 4x + 7, but algebra wasn’t his strong suit.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Something deep inside the Prime Minister’s brain clicked. Surely he shouldn’t be talking about civil war?
What was it that focus group had said about ACT’s bill leading to unrest? Obviously he knew the thing was going to be unpopular, but there wouldn’t be a war, would there?
A thought occurred. Maybe it was the wrong speech? He turned the page over and sure enough there were words on the other side. Sighing with relief he cleared his throat and began again.
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”
Hang on a minute, he thought. This doesn’t sound right either. David had asked him not to say Pākehā or Māori, he remembered that, but where the heck do these Romans come in, he wondered. As for that bit about burying Caesar, not praising him - who the heck had written that? Judith Collins?
Then he noticed there was a second piece of paper, which had “speech” written across the top. Christopher took a deep breath and began for a third time. Some of the crowd were becoming restless.
“we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
He glanced up at the crowd. They looked angry, and a bit confused.
Now on the off chance that you’re wondering what the heck I’m going on about. This is about the fact that people have noticed more than a passing resemblance between Luxon’s speech this year at Waitangi, and the one that he gave there a year ago.
It seems our Prime Minister is rather more keen on recycling than many of us might have imagined…
Yes, our leader so loved his people that he repeated an old speech for us.
He didn’t seek to address concerns over his government’s actions on te reo or te tiriti. There was no indication that he’d listened to people at all. He simply rolled out his boilerplate inspirational speech for centre right leaders, that came in the manual.
So if, like me, you kept wondering why on earth it sounded like the Prime Minister was campaigning - for an election back in October, it’s because he was literally reading out a speech he made when he was the leader of the opposition.
This has lead some to question whether he ought to stop running for office, and start actually leading the country.
You can see a side by side comparison of the speeches in this clip from Newshub:
It must have lead to some concern and consternation within the Prime Minister’s entourage.
Let’s imagine the scene. Nicola Willis (NW) is debriefing Chris Bishop (CB) in the back of a crown car as they beat a speedy retreat from Waitangi yesterday…
NW: But what if he picks up another one of his old speeches and he starts ranting about how terrible crime has become? Or what an unmitigated catastrophe the cost of living is?
CB: Well at least he’d be telling the truth for once.
NW: Ha Ha, very funny.
The thing is nobody even noticed before now. For goodness sake he’s spent the whole summer just repeating his speeches from the election campaign. Someone asks about the treaty and he says we need to resolve the issue of truancy. They ask him about smoking, he starts blathering on about taking students phones off them.
CB: I think it’s brilliant - he’s got them eating out of the palm of his hand. None of them expect him to say anything new or original.
NW: Thank god for that!
But you’d think he could change the order of the words around, or something. It sounds like he’s just ignoring current events and plowing on with what he wants to say, regardless.
CB: You’d think he’d at least realise it was the wrong speech.
NW: The problem is we’ve taught him not to react to the words we get him to say. It was quite fun training him, you should’ve heard some of the things we got him to say earlier about you and Dr Shane!
Actually forget that, I don’t think we’d even given him any notes at that point. You do realise you’re not supposed to smoke inside the Treaty grounds though right?
CB: Oh definitely. Besides I gave up at New Year.
As you’ll have seen from the Newshub clip above, or perhaps read in the news, the Prime Minister did not want to talk about his speech being a copy and paste job when confronted about it at Waitangi yesterday. But today he’s decided to own it…
“It's very deliberate, we wanted consistency of message,” Luxon told the AM show.
“What I've felt about the Treaty is what I've felt about the Treaty for a long time… What I felt in 2023 will be what I felt this year and that's actually what I'm going to do next year.”
So grim news for those who’ve been underwhelmed by what the Prime Minister had to say at Waitangi this year. Apparently he plans to double down and give the same speech next year too.
My friend Maria said, “Considering Luxon has said he will read the same speech next year I suggest he stays home and they have a cardboard cut-out and a recording.”
Joking aside, this is an absolute disgrace.
I can’t work out if Luxon and his team are just particularly lazy, rolling out the same speech as last year. Or whether they think so little of the New Zealand people that they just assumed no one would notice.
Either way what’s clear is that Christopher Luxon is not taking the concerns of many, over his government’s intentions toward te tiriti o Waitangi, seriously.
He gives no indication that he’s listening, and makes no effort to provide leadership at a time when it’s badly needed.
Time for a new speech Prime Minister.
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